For a moment, put yourself in a pair of Republican shoes. The news today is dominated by testimony given by four police officers about the gruesome beatings they absorbed at the hands of a furiously violent tide of red-hatted Trump lovers on January 6.
You’re a Republican today. How do you react to that?
“Fox News hosts Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham had a decidedly sarcastic reaction to the harrowing Tuesday testimonies of police who defended the Capitol from pro-Trump supporters on January 6,” reports Business Insider. Ingraham accused the officers of acting, and Carlson scolded one of the officers who compared his experience at the Capitol with his time as a soldier in Iraq. “It’s not Fallujah,” said Carlson, while Fox aired a conveniently mellow portion of the riot that merely showed people wandering around the building.
Over at the laboriously far right One America News Network (OAN), they didn’t even bother to air the testimony beyond a 20-second clip they talked over as it played. They did, however, give detailed coverage of an early GOP press conference where House Speaker Pelosi was blamed for the calamity because she is somehow in charge of the Capitol Police (she isn’t).
Later, OAN played another GOP press conference featuring Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene, who claimed the people under arrest for sacking the Capitol were “political prisoners.” That protest was broken up by someone blowing a whistle, which was apparently so unnerving that one of the cars carrying the lawmakers sped the wrong way down 9th St. NW in order to escape. “It swerved in front of oncoming traffic onto Pennsylvania Avenue amid a hail of honking horns,” reports The Washington Post.
If you reacted like that, you’re doing it wrong. You can take those shoes off now. They pinch, I know.
This sort of desperately bizarre poo-slinging was not relegated to a couple of shameless “news” outlets and the Goofball Caucus of Gaetz and Greene. “I have yet to meet a Republican in Congress who has minimized and doesn’t believe that what happened on January 6 was serious,” serial denialist Rep. Jim Banks — who along with Jim Jordan was blessedly bounced from the committee by Pelosi — told CNN yesterday.
Banks has clearly never met Sen. Ron Johnson, who calls 1/6 a “peaceful protest.” Banks likewise ignores Rep. Andrew Clyde, who called the insurrection a “normal tourist visit,” after screaming in terror during the attack. In fact, there appears to be only two Republicans in Congress — Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney — willing to call this thing what it was in public, and both of them now sit on the select committee investigating that day. Only 35 House Republicans voted to create the committee in the first place, and almost all of them have been keeping their heads down ever since.
The unreality of all this denial serves to underscore the broader surrealist landscape we find ourselves in. The testimony of the four officers was deeply compelling — one of them, Michael Fanone, had a death threat called into his cell while he was testifying — but there were also police officers participating in the insurrection, and law enforcement’s support for Donald Trump is notorious. Cheney and Kinzinger comported themselves well yesterday, but on balance, their voting records make me want to hide under the bed. These are the heroes today?
Finally, and fundamentally, the idea that Republican officeholders and their supporters can somehow be reached took a mighty blow yesterday. Almost to a person, congressional Republicans bore witness to the horrors of 1/6 while inside the building that day, and then again yesterday as captured on camera and described in testimony. They either turned on their heels and called it no big deal, or they said nothing at all.
I guess I understand why. The last thing House Republicans want is to have these hearings on their backs as they prepare for the 2022 midterms. It’s bad enough that Trump is still lurking out there, waiting to smash and sabotage his own party at any given opportunity. The video and testimony from yesterday will become fodder for 10,000 Democratic campaign commercials next year, if not sooner, and that is bad news for the faithful.
Every Trump-backing Republican making money off the MAGA crowd’s fathomless credulity can perceive a reckoning because of that fealty not too far down the line. It is uncertain when the next 1/6 hearing will be taking place, but when it does, Republicans would do well to try and stave off a similar backlash reaction once confronted by the consequences of their deeds. Of course, they won’t. I’m really not sure they can.